Kelly Loeffler Retreats to a Classic Campaign Strategy (Racism)

Illustration for article titled Kelly Loeffler Retreats to a Classic Campaign Strategy (Racism)
Image: Jessica McGowan (Getty Images)

As Republican leaders like Ronna McDaniel plead with their party’s disgruntled voters in Georgia to show up for the pair of Senate runoff races in the state, Kelly Loeffler and her allies have hit upon a time-worn turnout tactic in her race against the Reverend Raphael Warnock: racism. Shocking news!

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At a campaign stop over the weekend at a gun range, Loeffler invited her former opponent Doug Collins to help rally the crowd, and Collins decided to lean in to some old-fashioned dogwhistling to rile up the whites and ensure that they turn out in droves in January.

“I’m a pastor,” Collins said, his untucked button-down and ugly jeans apparently proving his down-home bonafides, before launching into a diatribe against Warnock. “And let me just touch on a few things. I’m not sure, Kelly, what a pro-choice pastor looks like.” He rambled for a bit about the Bible before continuing: “There is no such thing as a pro-choice pastor. What you have is a lie from the bed of hell. It is time to send it back to Ebenezer Baptist Church.” Send “it” back, eh, Doug? I’m sure you didn’t mean to refer to Warnock in such a dehumanizing way!

Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock is the senior pastor, was also, of course, the home church of Martin Luther King, Jr., an association that was surely not lost on the crowd that gathered at the gun range to cheer Loeffler on.

Loeffler, for her part, has also doubled down on painting Warnock as a radical leftist, using a page from the same playbook used against Black leaders in the 1960s as well as today. At a campaign event earlier this month, Loeffler claimed Warnock has a “Marxist ideology.” I personally would love if Warnock had a “Marxist ideology,” but Loeffler clearly meant it as a slur. “What you need to know is in our own communities, he doesn’t care about the things we care about,” Loeffler said of Warnock.

Loeffler isn’t wrong about one thing; Warnock does care about things that she and her fans don’t, like voting rights, healthcare access, and covid-19 relief.

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Warnock, for his part, had this to say abut Loeffler’s age-old attacks. I’m not going to be distracted by the politics of fear and division,” he said, adding, “We know what they’re doing—these are all ways of saying that he’s something other than you. And it’s really unfortunate that people are still trafficking in this kind of politics.”

Unfortunate is one way to describe what Loeffler is doing!

Senior reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

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So a very weird thing is that just a couple months ago, Republicans were so fired up about the possibility of making someone’s faith an issue that they preemptively accused Democrats of doing it to Amy Coney Barrett, even though basically no Democrats were seeking to attack her for being Catholic, and even argued that simply asking Amy Coney Barrett about her position on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, was an attack on her faith because the Catholic Church has positions on those issues.

Now, less than two months later, Republicans are attacking Warnock based on his expressions of his own faith! Since I know Republicans always argue in good faith, especially when it comes to religion (for example, they would never apply one standard to, say, conservative Christians, and another standard to, say, Muslims), someone should point out to them that declaring discussions of a public figure’s out of bounds when they’re conservative, but fair game when they are liberal, might come across as hypocrisy! I’m sure, once that’s pointed out to them, they will stop attacking Warnock for, as a pastor, explaining basic tenets of his Christian faith.